Design Skills - Resources and Training for Designers

Frequently Asked Questions
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We often receive enquiries from people about our products and about training. We feel this material would benefit a wide range of people.

Please do take the time to read the information below before contacting the design skills directly, as it is comprehensive and regularly updated.

| Communication | CAD Training | Resources |


Q1. What do I receive when I buy the beginners guide to colour theory and rendering techniques?

Our comprehensive guide is designed to provide learners with an overview of colour theory and core rendering techniques and materials often used by designers: coloured pencil, marker pens, pastels, watercolour. The first part of the book looks at colour perceptions and introduces colour theory. The second part introduces the principles of 3D modelling and explores the properties and different rendering techniques for each type of material, how to create smooth or textured finishes.

CAD Training

Q1. What do I receive when I buy the Minicad / version 9 and below beginners package?

The package includes 2 manuals, a 2D drawing book and a 3D tutorial teaching core aspects of VectorWorks, a royalty free library of furniture with 10 objects and free registration to our membersa

Q2. What do I receive when I buy the version 10 and above beginners package?

The package includes 2 manuals, a 2D drawing book and a 3D tutorial teaching core aspects of VectorWorks, a free bonus study on axonometric drawing, a royalty free library of furniture with over 30 objects and free registration to our members only forum.

Q3. What do I receive when I buy the 3D modelling intermediates package?

The package includes 2 manuals, each with a comprehensive 3D modelling tutorial highlighting core 3D modelling features of VectorWorks, a free bonus book on dimensioning and measuring and free registration to our members only forum.

Q4. What do I receive when I buy the advanced modelling package?

The package includes 2 manuals. The first one has 2 tutorials about complex and organic shapes and the second one, detailed information on using advanced tools and creating animation. You will also receive a free bonus book on lighting with VectorWorks and free registration to our members only forum.

Q5. Although there is a short description about each training manual on the index page of the design skills store website, can I find out exactly exactly what I will be learning?

Once you have selected the manual that interests you, you will be taken to another page. There you will find a comprehensive list of the learning outcomes. For example, to know what you will be learning with the intermediate 3D modelling package, select your version of the software using the select version drop down menu on the right. This will take you to a different page with a detailed list of what you will learn.

Q6. I am a third year architecture student and have recently purchased Vectorworks 10. However I have never used it before and was wondering if your beginners tutorial package is any good for helping in architectural drawing? I have a quickstart guide but it is not very good for starting off with no knowledge and the CAD tutors here only know how to use AutoCad which I find dated and very confusing to use.

VectorWorks is a highly intuitive and enjoyable software to work with once you know the basics but it is a very large program and can be very confusing at first. The Quick Start guide is good and comprehensive but only if you already have a good working knowledge of VectorWorks and it does not give you the opportunity to put the tools and drawing strategies into context. I created the Training Package for beginners to intermediate to help people get to grip with the core concepts of VectorWorks. Without mastering those, it is almost impossible to progress. Therefore, our current beginners package is designed for people who have never used VectorWorks before or have very little knowledge of the software. If you complete the training you will have reached intermediate level and can move on to intermediate training.

Q7. What does the beginners training package consists of?

The package consists of 2 manuals. The Drafting manual explains how to use VectorWorks basic tools, at the core of the program, including exercises to practice and put the tools into context. The 3D drawing manual, as its name suggests, is about creating a 3D space, complete with furniture. In addition, there is a section on how to present your drawing, including an introduction on how to create and present detailed drawings for construction. The first part of each manual is dedicated to understanding the software's drawing strategies (e.g. the different ways available to draw an object), the palettes, working environment, 2D & 3D axis. Using this type of format means that each manual can be used as a stand-alone learning tool. There are also many helpful tips, which stem from my own working knowledge of VectorWorks. Moreover, you learn how to set up the drawing parameters (Paper size, units, scale, grid set up, etc) as well as the concept of layers and how to make the most of this feature. Also available in the appendix section of the 3D manual, is a diagram explaining the concept of layers for a multi storey building, which would be useful to interior designers and Architects.

Q8. Does it matter whether you use a Mac or a PC?

The training manuals are designed to be used on either system. The differences between platforms when using VectorWorks are minimal and discrepancies are highlighted where applicable. For example, keyboard shortcut functions are given both for PC and Mac.

Q9. Will I find the tutorials applicable to my OSX version?

Absolutely. However, do check which version of VectorWorks you are using before you buy anything.

Q10. I have a full version of VectorWorks 11. I mainly use the Spotlight for lighting design and I am a Mac user. Do you think that it would be useful for me to order training manuals?

Our training manuals are designed to help you learn to draw using VectorWorks. Anyone using this software has to learn the fundamentals of drawings, no matter what their speciality is. To make the learning process easier, we have designed training manuals for each stage: beginners, intermediate and advanced. This enable people to assimilate what they learn and develop a degree of autonomy before moving on to the next level.

Q11. I am teaching myself VectorWorks and am trying to source some good resource material. I need to clarify that the course will progress quickly in the direction that I need. I have a degree in Interior Design/Architecture for which I used 3D Studio Max, but feel that vectorworks would be far more user friendly in this line of work. I have also bought the Visual Quickstart Guide, but that is not really the way I want to learn. I need something rather more inspirational! Can you help?

Our VectorWorks training manuals are designed for people who want to teach themselves this great software or are looking to complement their knowledge base. The manuals are designed to quickly and easily give you professional knowledge and understanding which would normally take months to develop in a classroom situation. There are exercises and tutorials to make the learning process more interesting and put it into context. There are also many tips not available anywhere else and the packages comes with a free membership to our forum. On the forum, you can post any questions relating to the packages and with other members, explore any issues you may encounter. This means that although you are teaching yourself, help is always at hand.

Q12. I am a complete novice to VW, but need to acquire some knowledge, fast! My work is 'Artists Impressions' which have been done in watercolour up to now. I need to know how to construct an exterior model of buildings in 3D. I have VW 11 and wondered if you can help me, or could point me in the right direction?

VectorWorks, like many other design software, requires a fair amount of practice and some understanding of core elements and drawing strategies, no matter which purpose it is used for. It is very difficult for beginners to find relevant help and short intensive CAD courses are usually very expensive. This is why I have created a training package for beginners. It is a step by step guide on how to use VectorWorks core elements rapidly moving from 2D to 3D. This is basically what I would have liked to have when I was learning the software myself. The first part is designed to teach core tools with exercises where applicable while the second part is a 3D tutorial. The package is set up so that what is learnt can be applied to a myriad of other projects. Should you need to develop your skills further, you can continue your training using the intermediate and advanced level manuals.

Q13. I have some knowledge of VectorWorks (I have been using it regularly to draw interior spaces with simple furniture) but I have no knowledge whatsoever of the more advanced features of the software. Which manual(s) would you recommend?

Our training is divided into 3 categories: beginners, intermediate and advanced. Each category builds onto the previous one so if you already feel comfortable with the core features of VectorWorks, you should preferably learn with manuals from the intermediate section before moving onto the advanced level.

Q14. I am very interested in the drawing aspects of the intermediate and advanced training manuals but I am worried I won't be able to complete them because I don't have RenderWorks. Can I still learn from them?

Yes, because the drawing processes and tools used in these tutorials are a very important part of the learning curve. Although in some manuals RenderWorks was used, Open GL (available with VectorWorks) can be used instead. This means that textures won't be available but this will not affect the overall drawing learning outcomes. Although not compulsary, many people today use computers to render their drawings. As RenderWorks is the rendering companion of VectorWorks, we have introduced it in some of our training manuals. Even if you don't use RenderWorks at present, you may come across it oir a similar software in the future.

Q15. I work as a Lighting Gaffer in the entertainment industry. I recently purchased Vectorworks 10 Spotlight and have absolutely no idea how to use it. Would your tutorial program be the right choice for a lighting designer or should I look for a tutorial specifically for Vectorworks 10 Spotlight?

Our training packages would teach you how to draw 2D & 3D, lighting and rendering but does not go as far as teaching you the advanced lighting capabilities of Spotlight. Saying that, you still need to understand how to use the core features of VectorWorks before progressing further so our packages would be useful to begin with.

Q16. Some of the trades I collaborate with in my profession use AutoCAD. Is transferring designs from AutoCAD to Vectorworks simple enough?

VectorWorks is compatible with many other software, including AutoCAD. VectorWorks can read DWG/DFX extensions, you can open AutoCAD drawings in vectorWorks and work on them, and you can export (File > Export) VectorWorks drawings as DWG/DFX.

Q17. I need to learn VectorWorks quickly but I am worried about teaching myself. Would you have any recommendations?

My first recommendation would be to be disciplined about your training. You need to do it regularly though do not try to learn too much too fast. Give yourself time to assimilate. Then, practice, practice and practice more. Try to apply what you learn to projects of your own. Keep it simple to begin with. Then move on to more difficult tasks by learning the training manuals from our intermediate and advanced levels. Last but not least, when you buy the package, you can register to our forum where you can post questions you may have during your training. Either myself or another member will reply. This way you are never alone while learning. The early stages of learning can be quite difficult. Don't give up! You will soon find the experience highly enjoyable and your achievements rewarding.

Q18. I have a very limited amount of CAD knowledge. Could I nonetheless jump levels and, for example, learn about animation?

I would not recommend it. This would prove a very frustrating experience. Both the intermediate and advanced training manuals are designed with the understanding that the user already possess a good and solid knowledge base. I would recommend that you at least complete the beginners training package before moving on to animation.

Q19. Is it possible to buy the training manuals from a shop?

Our training manuals are available exclusively through our website and can be downloaded directly to your computer. All you have to do is follow the on-line instructions for the transaction via Paypal and once payment has been received you will immediately receive an email with download and installation instructions, link to our forum and support.

Q20. I am a garden designer and I have just acquired a copy of Vectorworks v.11. I am a complete beginner and thought I would have a go at teaching myself CAD. I notice you are an interior designer. Will your course be suitable for a garden designer?

Indeed, our training package would be suitable to your needs because you are looking at learning the basics which are the same for everyone, no matter which profession they are in. In other words, the core tools and drawing methods of VectorWorks is what the training package is about. The same apply to our intermediate and advanced manuals should you decide to take your training further.

Q21. Can I learn the advanced and intermediate training manuals with VectorWorks9?

Sorry, this is not possible. A lot of the tools used in these training manuals did not exist in version 9 of the software.

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Q1. What do I receive when I buy the E-guide to interior design careers?

Our comprehensive guide includes information on the interior design professions, studying interior design in the UK, preparing for an interior design career, a listing of interior design courses in the UK, a listing of design publications, a listing of design resources and associations, a UK event diary, a listing of UK recruitment agencies and a business start up checklist. You will also receive a free glossary of interior design terms and information on scope of work and fees.

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